Psychopharmacology (Berl) 2017 Nov 7;234(21):3207-3215. Epub 2017 Aug 7.
Center for Substance Abuse Research (CSAR), Lewis Katz School of Medicine at Temple University, Philadelphia, PA, 19140, USA.
Rationale: Synthetic psychostimulant abuse, including cathinone-derived 3,4-methylenedioxypyrovalerone (MDPV), continues to increase in many countries. Similar to cocaine but with greater potency, MDPV elicits a transient sympathomimetic response by blocking cellular uptake of dopamine (DA) and norepinephrine (NE)-administration in some users is reported as euphoria-inducing much like cocaine and amphetamine. Pharmacological agents that disrupt excitatory transmission onto midbrain DA-producing neurons, including hypothalamic hypocretin/orexin (hcrt/ox) receptor antagonists, present attractive targets to aide abstinence maintenance by reducing psychostimulant-associated reward and reinforcement.
Objective: The present study sought to assess the degree to which suvorexant, a dual hcrt/ox receptor antagonist, influences drug-taking as well as ultrasonic vocalizations (USVs) associated with MDPV self-administration.
Methods: Rats were trained to self-administer MDPV (~0.03 mg/kg/inf, 3-s) for 14 days under a fixed-ratio 1 schedule of reinforcement, and effects of suvorexant (0, 3, 10, 30 mg/kg, i.p.) on drug-taking was assessed. USVs were recorded during a 30-min pre-lever period as well as during 2-h of MDPV self-administration.
Results: We observed that suvorexant modestly suppressed the number of MDPV infusions earned. Notably, we observed that suvorexant reduced 50-kHz USVs associated with pre- and post-lever time-points but did not noticeably alter call type profiles. Upon comparison of the two measures, we observed trending positive associations between suvorexant-induced changes in drug-taking and 50-kHz USVs.
Conclusions: Results from this exploratory study provide support for the following: (1) studying how suvorexant may provide benefit to humans with stimulant use disorders, (2) identifying a potential role for orexin transmission in cathinone abuse, and (3) further interrogating the potential utility of rat USVs to predict drug consumption in preclinical models of substance use disorders.